UPA (2004-) Globalization and Indian Federalism: a Paradigm Shift?
In this paper the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) (2005-)’s approach to federalism in India is critically examined in the backdrop of India’s ongoing globalization since the early 1990s, and a comparative assessment of the same in relation to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s approach to federalism in India is also offered. The shift is evident in renewed interest in the role of the states, more autonomy to the states, further sub-state level decentralization, and finally, enhancement of the capacity of the states. The appropriate institutional reforms for the same being undertaken are also discussed. It is argued here that the paradigmatic shift evident in the UPA’s approach to federalism in India is in fact partly a continuation of the same from the NDA regime, if not earlier, the common determining factor being the compulsion of structural reforms. It is further argued that coalitional compulsions coupled with the compulsion of carrying out structural reforms have meant that the BJP (NDA) had to mellow down its sharp edge of Hindutva nationhood, and the Congress (UPA) has turned softer on ethno-cultural identity issues in matters of governance. The paper finally maintains some reservations about the long term effect of the market-propelled federal institutional reforms in India on distributional conflicts in a complex multiethnic country of India’s size and diversity.
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